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The Best Music Artists for Study Sessions

The Best Music Artists for Study Sessions

Written by

James Picken


May 10, 2023



What are the best brain-boosting beats?

We know all too well the power of music; it can have powerful effects on the brain, enhancing focus, motivation, and memory retention. So, with students around the UK preparing for exams, many will be searching for revision hacks.

To help, we studied 36 popular artists and their latest albums to find who has the best brain-boosting beats, giving each a score out of 10.

Who topped the charts?

According to our study, pop sensation Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia album is the best revision backdrop, scoring an impressive 7.7/10 thanks to its popularity (72%), high energy (71%) and low ‘speechiness’ (8%) – the presence of spoken word.

Science suggests the more popular an artist, the better they are for revision, due to the “Blur effect”. A study found children who listened to British pop group Blur while completing a test performed better than those who listened to classical music.

Researchers suggested that children are more likely to benefit from listening to music they enjoy while studying.

The Best Music Artists for Study Sessions

Artist Popularity (%) Energy (%) Speechiness (%) Positiveness (%) Study Suitability Score (/10)
1 Dua Lipa
72 71 8 67 7.7
2 Calvin Harris
53 71 7 84 7.6
3 The 1975
69 65 5 68 7.5
4 Charli XCX
59 76 4 58 7.3
5 Harry Styles
81 56 6 60 7.2
6 Lizzo
64 67 8 66 7.1
7 Blackpink
74 64 8 57 7.0
8 Wet Leg
59 72 5 57 7.0
9 Bad Boy Chiller Crew
39 87 14 73 6.7
10 Mimi Webb
61 65 7 53 6.4

What about runners-up?

In second place is Calvin Harris, specifically his Funk Wave Bounces Vol 2 album, scoring 7.6/10. While its popularity rating is among the lowest in the top ten, its positivity is the highest (84%) - far above the average of 64 percent.

Recent research suggests people are more productive when they are happy. A good mood can also improve learning outcomes and lead to more success studying. The Scottish DJ’s music also has high energy (71%) and low speechiness (7%) ratings.

The BRIT award winning rock band, the 1975, come in third place with their album Being Funny in a Foreign Language, scoring 7.5. The album has a low speechiness rating (5%) and a higher-than-average popularity score (69%).

The presence of spoken word can be an important factor in how well music is suited to revision. That’s because tunes with too many words can be distracting and contribute to a worse working memory – bad news if you’re trying to study.

In fourth position is Charli XCX’s and her album Crash (7.3/10). It has the lowest speechiness score in the top 10 and a good energy score of 76%.

Research shows high-energy songs with faster beats and louder sections are great at making you feel more alert and motivated. For students struggling with motivation while studying, these could serve a much-needed focus boost.

Rounding up the top five is Harry Styles’ third studio album Harry’s House with a score of 7.2. It is the most popular album in the top ten (81%). However, the tracks’ energy levels are the lowest in the top ten (56%).

So, if you’re struggling to focus and retain that all-important information this exam season, add these albums to your playlist.

It's not all about the music...

Many other factors can influence how well your revision sessions go. For example, research shows high noise levels can result in reduced cognitive performance, so any kind of music should be kept at a low background volume that you can easily talk over to minimise distraction.

The environment in which you study can also affect your concentration and ultimately your grades on the big day. One study found poorly lit areas can decrease your focus and alertness whereas brightly lit spaces with a combination of natural and artificial light are best for concentration.

For those with a more visual learning style, consider revising in different places for different subjects to create a clear distinction in your mind. The law of association is a powerful tool when it comes to memory recall.

So there you have it, the best music artists for your study sessions. Put on the perfect tune, pick up that pen and get to work. Best of luck!


Startle gathered a seed list of the 36 artists nominated for Brit awards across categories in 2023 excluding song and producer categories. All the album data was collected on 17 April however this excludes any tracks on deluxe or country-specific versions of the albums.

For artists that do not have an album (Central Cee and Eliza Rose) the latest mixtape or extended play was used. Data for each song was collected on Musicstax on 27 April.

Image credits:

Dua Lipa: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Calvin Harris: Carlos Delgado, CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
The 1975: Begoña from Errenteria, España, CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Charli XCX: Tom Bellamy Creative, CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Harry Styles: Lily Redman, CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Lizzo: friedoxygen, CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Blackpink: Marie Claire Korea, CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Wet Leg: Paul Hudson from United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Bad Boy Chiller Crew: YouTube
Mimi Webb: Justin Higuchi, CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The Best Music Artists for Study Sessions

James Picken

Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.

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